DOES DIGITAL LEARNING HELP OR HINDER IMPORTANT SKILLS SUCH AS CRITICAL THINKING?
One of the primary objectives of today’s higher education is to actively engage students in the learning process. It is widely accepted that by taking personal responsibility, children more readily develop critical thinking capabilities. E-learning platforms are clearly best suited to deliver high-quality content in a consistent manner while encouraging interactive participation.
Critical thinking can be described as the ability to blend new knowledge with existing knowledge, construct a series of scenarios, evaluate them and motivate an approach to problem-solving. It implies a level of discernment in the person’s mental processes, to come to a logical conclusion. Reasoning requires a complex process of deliberation combined with a questioning mind, in order to not merely accept what is being presented. The ability to evaluate facts, synthesise information, ‘read between the lines’ and give another point of view is central to the process.
Numerous studies in different parts of the world have found that technology-rich environments empower self-regulated education. This would not have been possible in the absence of technology. Self-learning has been proven to stimulate cognitive ability, the skill to organise the mind and the ability to express thinking in a clearly structured and convincing manner.
And we know, technology is always on. A child can revisit materials presented in a variety of online formats as often as they want. The repetition facilitates the absorption of information and helps to transfer knowledge from short term to long term memory – an aid in the development of metacognitive skills.
It is widely accepted that the skill to identify patterns and apply logic benefits from continuous multisensory stimulation. Active participation and multiple channel learning enforce principles and concepts which encourage learners to take responsibility for their progress. Modalities can include video lectures, simulations, games, symbols as well as verbal and graphic formats (An interesting observation is that graphics often improve likeability, but do not always enhance learning).
New approaches and interfaces in “online meeting technology and education platforms” create exciting opportunities to test methods in encouraging better group intercommunication and teamwork dynamics. The interactive functionality of platforms is an important topic, especially in this new era of home-based work and schooling. The way in which the interface you choose creates new and exciting interactive modalities to encourage teamwork, and better social interaction is important. Here’s a link to an interesting study on types of interface design for choosing new approaches to building strong group interaction. As we all know, first and foremost, the quality of the content is the critical success factor. Having this mastered, it’s now up to you to decide which platform you, as the platform you, as the teachers and designers, should ideally use to work together to create holistic, gratifying experiences for students.
And with homeschooling becoming the order of the day, it is good to know that critical thinking skills are not sacrificed at the altar of technology, so it is over to you to find that platform that best works for your needs. With a critical eye, I am sure.
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